Michigan football: Scouting report on Mazi Smith

Jul 26, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Michigan Wolverines defensive back DJ Turner and defensive tackle Mazi Smith talk to the media during Big 10 football media days at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 26, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Michigan Wolverines defensive back DJ Turner and defensive tackle Mazi Smith talk to the media during Big 10 football media days at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports /

Breaking down the scouting report for Michigan football defensive tackle Mazi Smith heading into the 2023 NFL draft. 

Despite never putting up insane numbers like some of his DT counterparts Jordan Davis and Jalen Carter, Michigan’s own DT Mazi Smith had a very good four-year career at the University of Michigan.

Mazi Smith was listed as Bruce Feldman’s #1 “freak” of college football during the 2022-23 football season, and oftentimes, you felt that with Mazi Smith. Other times, he went a little unnoticed. But that’s not a bad thing, as his job was to swallow up rushing lanes and get the QB when he could.

He is a two-time back-to-back Big Ten Champion, former captain, and one of the original founding fathers for helping to usher in a new culture and new era of Michigan football. For that, he gets extra brownie points from me.

Now, Mazi Smith sets his eyes on the NFL and hopes to become the latest former Michigan football defensive lineman to dominate in the NFL.


Position: Defensive Tackle

School: Michigan

Current Year: 4th year-Senior (entered 2023 NFL Draft)

Height: 6’3

Weight: 337 pounds


-Mazi Smith carries his weight really well. Anytime a defensive lineman gets into the 300s in terms of weight, there will always be questions about health and athletic ability (ability to move). Mazi Smith doesn’t have those issues. He will probably run faster at the combine than some defensive linemen 30-40 pounds lighter than him.

-Mazi Smith has a ton of power in his hands. That is one of the biggest things that jump out to you on film. He gets leverage and gains control of the block pretty easily, and his upper-body strength allows him to recover if he was initially beaten defending the run game.

-Mazi Smith keeps his base wide, which is a good thing when engaged with a blocker, as this allows him to maintain leverage, and cut back inside or outside on a pass-rush move if need be.

-Mazi Smith can shed a block relatively easily, and has shown an ability to get by, or avoid, the blocker with the arm over, or swim move

-When Mazi Smith anticipates the double-team, he is strong enough to absorb the contact while splitting the double team

-Mazi has showed instances of having a hump and club-by move, and if Mazi gets the proper coaching (and gets more limber) he can develop a push-pull move as well

-On slants as a pass rusher, Mazi Smith has a pretty good hand swipe, which keeps opposing linemen on their toes

Despite Mazi Smith being big and powerful, he does have some things he needs to get better at to be a dominant DT in the NFL.


-Mazi Smith has a chronically late reaction to the snap (doesn’t have that explosion that other elite DTs seem to just inherently have) and doesn’t get off the ball that fast. This could become a problem at the NFL level with reach blocks

-Mazi Smith is slow to get his hands up when defending the run, which exposes his chest and makes it way easier for the opposing blocker to engage and lock him in place, or turn Mazi’s shoulders the wrong way, away from the action

-Mazi Smith doesn’t stay low to the ground a lot. He stands up out of his stance quite a bit, which could give him issues against smaller, but quicker interior offensive linemen who play with good technique

-The effectiveness of Mazi’s pass rush (bull rush) is inconsistent because of his slow get-off and wide hand placement

-Occasional lapses in technique and can get sloppy with hand placement when fatigued

-Mazi Smith needs to add another pass rush move to his arsenal, like the rip, to disengage the opposing lineman when he does win a rep

-Doesn’t rush with a continuous motor. During exhaustion or if beaten, Mazi Smith will almost quit on the play, or half-heartedly keep rushing the passer with low-effort


Michigan football’s Mazi Smith has a lot of good things to go off of, but unfortunately has some glaring negatives that he will need to iron out at the NFL level. He has to really work on his get-off, pass rushes moves, and effort/motor at the NFL level to become a dominant defensive tackle.

He has the tools to be successful, and a lot of his plays will wow you, but he is too inconsistent and should’ve had better production overall for his stature. He sometimes disappeared for games at a time, and then would randomly just “pop” for a play or two.

The consistency definitely needs to improve, and he needs to become a better pass rusher, as he often has a hard time getting off blocks and getting to the QB.

He did run quite a bit of two-gap with Michigan football, which is part of the issue with his get-off and his lack of production, but a lot of interior defensive linemen two-gap and are more productive, so that’s not entirely an acceptable excuse. He showed some of the same issues in a one-gap too.

Despite this, Mazi Smith possesses all of the tools necessary to be a dominant interior defensive lineman in the NFL. There may not be a player with a higher ceiling in the draft than Mazi Smith, regardless of position. He just needs to get more consistent, and he could be a massive headache for opposing offensive linemen.

Ultimately, I see Mazi Smith being taken on Day 2 of the draft, probably towards the middle or back part of Round 3, with the upside to be taken towards the middle or back of Round 2.

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At worst, I see him being taken in Round 4 of the draft as a mid-round pick. He should be drafted to a team that will allow him to play 0-2i technique, or possibly 3-tech (if he adds some more quickness). Whichever team gets him in Round 3 or 4 will more than likely be getting a massive steal.